By Senator Lena C. Taylor
I entered the New Year with renewed optimism. As a plan to lose weight, I began to mentally plan for the best that I could do. I reviewed what I needed to lose, but more importantly, what was keeping me from succeeding. And just like a big piece of chocolate cake, it was staring me in the face… Republican games and political posturing.
This is the only way I can sum up the recent list of bills proposed by Republicans in Wisconsin to address law enforcement issues, from staffing to questionable public interaction. Almost as if it were a game, my colleagues on the right come up with division and band-aid solutions to real and policing problems.
Scripted for the upcoming 2022 election season, some Republican lawmakers have launched the dog-and-pony show against crime, law enforcement support, and community policing concerns. However, if all of this were true, even from a distance, it could have been done almost three years ago. Gov. Tony Evers has prioritized additional funding for law enforcement staffing and funding for additional programs. Republicans rejected the proposals.
Seeking to siphon off money from federal COVID-19 relief funds to pay their bundle of bills, these lawmakers are missing the point. Long before the deadly health pandemic and social unrest of the past two years, we implored them to take these issues seriously. Interested in scoring political points, far too many Wisconsin state GOP lawmakers were unwilling to have substantive discussions and decisions. Yet it is a game we cannot afford to lose. The costs are deadly.
Proposals that teach children how to interact with police would have done nothing for 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by an officer in Cleveland, Ohio within 1.6 seconds of interacting with him. Tamir never had the opportunity to show “mutual cooperation and respect”. Their support for “no-mint warrants” creates opportunities for another Breonna Taylor-style murder.
Few would oppose increasing staff, securing more programs, and improving agent-community relations. However, the package of bills rings hollow considering how Republicans, both locally and nationally, ignored the peril to law enforcement during the U.S. Capitol riot in 2021. So that an officer was killed during the insurgency, inspired by the leader of the Republican Party, and four other officers involved committed suicide, GOP lawmakers fell silent. You can’t be part of the biggest lie ever told (the election was stolen from Donald Trump), watch cops die as a result of your lies, and then try to advocate for police causes.
The Republicans have ceded their authority to wave the “Back the Blue” banner. They used law enforcement as a pawn in the election and treated public safety as a game. It looks like 2022 will be no different.